Originally created 09/12/99

SRS seeks members for board

Local residents who want to influence Savannah River Site operations now have their chance.

The site's Citizens Advisory Board is holding a membership drive to bolster its pool of applicants for future vacancies, said Dawn Haygood, the board's administrator at SRS.

Terms for 12 of the board's 25 members will expire in March. The volunteer board monitors environmental issues at the federal nuclear-weapons site, and advises state and federal agencies that own and regulate the site.

Members are not paid, but are reimbursed for travel expenses related to board functions.

Of the 12 members whose terms will expire, 10 will be eligible to serve a second two-year term. Still, the board will have at least two open seats, since charter members Ann Loadholt and Bill Lawless have served their two-term limit.

Some members also might choose not to serve another term, and the board can vote out an incumbent if it believes a new candidate is a better fit, Ms. Haygood said.

"I really don't know quite yet what we're looking at," said Ms. Haygood, who said she had received about 25 applications in the past week.

The turnover won't stop in March. In 2001, the board will have to fill at least six seats emptied by members facing term limits, Ms. Haygood said.

Residents who apply during the current membership drive will be eligible for seats in both years, Ms. Haygood said. In addition, the board has an existing pool of 150 applicants, she said.

The drive ends Oct. 29. Board members will review applications in early December; three candidates will be selected for each of the 12 seats up for election, Ms. Haygood said.

Board committees will review the candidates in January and February. The entire board will elect new members, or re-elect current ones, in March.

The 12 seats include slots designated for environmentalists, public officials, educators, business leaders, minorities, labor representatives and the general public.

Board officers also want to attract younger members, Dr. Lawless said.

"One of the things that we're concerned about, even though it's not required, is getting more young people at these meetings," he said. "One of the things you notice as you look across the board meetings now is that there's a lot of gray out there."

People mulling a run for the board need not have expertise in the technical nature of SRS work, Mrs. Loadholt said.

"They have to have common sense," she said. "I don't think it's necessary for them to have a degree in science or engineering. It's important for them to have an open mind, and be willing to work."

Any new members will be counted upon to help the board rule upon some daunting challenges facing the site, Dr. Lawless said.

In recent months, the board has paid close attention to selection of a replacement for the site's failed $550 million In-Tank Precipitation Facility. The board created a citizens' focus group to monitor the effort, which, if delayed, could slow efforts to close the site's 49 tanks of highly radioactive liquid waste.

Ensuring that a proper In-Tank replacement is selected, and that the waste tanks are closed on time, are obvious tasks before the board, Dr. Lawless said.

"There are some really critical questions that will have to be addressed by the board," he said. "There's going to be lots of work for a new generation of board members."


Brandon Haddock at (706) 823-3409 or bhaddock@augustachronicle.com.

Board informationPeople interested in applying should call Ms. Haygood at (800) 249-8155 or visit the board's Web site at www.srs.gov.


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